It is estimated by the World Health Organization that 15 per cent of the world’s population are persons with disabilities (PWDs). Accessibility and inclusion are constant issues in the lives of PWDs, but it is believed that information and communication technologies (ICTs) “have the potential for making significant improvements in the lives of these persons, allowing them to enhance their social and economic integration in communities by enlarging the scope of activities available to them” (UNESCO http://en.unesco.org).
In Envisioning Democracy, Lloyd Waller takes a closer look at how ICT can enhance political participation and thereby be used as a tool for the development of a more inclusive society. Using the experiences of the visually impaired in two Caribbean countries, Jamaica and Barbados, Waller presents the challenges faced by such persons in actively and effectively participating in the political process and suggests possible solutions to these challenges. With a focus on youth, Envisioning Democracy not only outlines how all citizens can use ICT to engage in governance activities but, more importantly, how disabled citizens can improve their knowledge and communicate with others.
Waller highlights, however, that present ICT use does not address the issues of privacy and independence, especially when voting, and this deficiency inhibits full inclusion and equity. The exploration of e-democracy, e-governance and assistive technologies, however, provides a critical starting point for the introduction of effective solutions to ensure full engagement of the total citizenry.
Useful to policy analysts, political strategists, sociologists and social workers as well as students of politics, public policy, sociology and research methods, Envisioning Democracy is of even greater value to the general discussion of citizen engagement and the march towards a truly inclusive society.